SENTENCES OF THE PHILOSOPHERS, translated into Latin from the Greek by George Hermonymus, illuminated manuscript on vellum [England, c.1475-76].
An English humanist manuscript, with characteristic localised decoration, the Latin translation of collected Greek moral sayings by the scribe and diplomat George Hermonymus of Sparta, a vital figure in the dissemination of Greek learning in Europe during the Renaissance. The dedication volume from Hermonymus to William, Abbot of St Albans: a long-lost sister to Harley MS. 3346, which was presented to George Neville, Archbishop of York.
155 x 107mm. ii + 32 + ii (lacking one leaf), 14 lines, ruled space: 82 x 54mm, humanist script, illuminated heraldic miniature, illuminated initials throughout (frayed edges to ff.2-3, some soiling, most evident on ff.1-4). Original velvet over wooden boards (worn).
Provenance: Dedication copy from the translator, and possible scribe, George Hermonymus (fl.15th C) to William, Abbot of St Albans [either William Albon (1465–1475) or William of Wallingford (1476-1492)]: the mitre associated with the abbacy of St Albans appears above the overpainted arms in the miniature on f.1. Another presentation copy from Hermonymus of Sparta to George Neville, Archbishop of York, also likely dating from around the time of Hermonymus' diplomatic visit to England in 1475-6, is at the British Library (Harley MSS. 3346 and 3348) – ?Totewhill family of Cornwall; their arms (sable, three covered cups argent) overpainted in the heraldic miniature.
Content: f.1v heraldic miniature; ff.2-3 preface of George Hermonymus, opening with dedicatory rubric; ff.4-27 Collection of sentences, translated from the Greek (lacking opening leaf); ff.29-30 ruled blanks; ff.31v-32 16th and 17th- century verse additions in English and Latin.
Not only is the illumination and formal presentation very close to the sister manuscript, the style of the illuminated initials can be identified in further English humanist manuscripts such as Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS. 158.